Qassem Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab, directly threatened an attack on the US military in the Mideast and said that America and Israel faced a “dark day” for her father’s killing, speaking at his funeral in Tehran on Monday.
Downtown Tehran was brought to a standstill as mourners flooded the Iranian capital to pay an emotional homage to Soleimani, the Quds Force commander killed in a US strike. State television said it was a “several million-strong” turnout.
“The families of US soldiers in the Middle East will spend their days waiting for death of their children,” Soleimani said to cheers, Al Jazeera reported, as a million people or more — according to Iranian estimates — gathered to mourn her father, killed in a US drone strike on Friday.
“Hey crazy Trump, you are the symbol of stupidity and a toy in the hand of international Zionists,” she added, according to CNN.
“This heinous crime committed by the Americans expresses the spirit of criminality and bullying that covers all crimes of bloodshed, especially on the land of Palestine.”
Mourners chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and waved flags of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon among others, as they marched down Enghelab Street, a main artery of the Iranian capital.
Some demonstrators burned Israeli and US flags and carried coffins bearing the images of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.
Young and old were packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets, including women dressed in black chadors and others wearing loose-fitting hijabs.
The streets of Tehran were so full of people that many were unable to emerge from underground metro stations, semi-official news agency ISNA reported.
The sheer number of mourners left many people stuck in side streets around Enghelab (Revolution) Street, the main route of a procession to a ceremony at Tehran University.
BREAKING: What has to be the biggest ever funeral seen in the history of the world is currently underway. pic.twitter.com/XOvWslBVU3
— Ismail Abramjee (@IsmailAbramjee) January 5, 2020
Clutching portraits of Soleimani, a crowd gathered on the outskirts of the university, where Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself prayed over the caskets of Soleimani and others slain in the attack.
Khamenei, who had a close relationship with Soleimani, wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead. The crowd and others wailed.
— Anasse Azzaoui (@AzzaouiAnasse) January 6, 2020
Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s replacement as head of the expeditionary Quds force, stood near Khamenei’s side, as did Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top leaders in the Islamic Republic.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh also addressed the mourners, telling them that Palestinian terror groups owe a debt to Soleimani.
What Soleimani “provided to Palestine and the resistance has brought them to the position they are in today in terms of power and steadfastness,” Haniyeh said, according to a report on Hamas’s website.
“I say that the martyr leader Soleimani, who spent his life supporting the resistance as the head of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard…is the martyr of Jerusalem,” Haniyeh said.
Iran provides support to Hamas and more direct backing to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, all of which are sworn to Israel’s destruction.
“I affirm that the resistance project in Palestine to confront the Zionist project and resist the American domination project will not be broken, be weakened or hesitate,” Haniyeh said. “It will continue along its firm path, the path of resistance, until it drives out the occupiers from our land and Jerusalem.”
While Iran recently faced nationwide protests over government-set gasoline prices that reportedly killed over 300 people, Soleimani’s mass processionals has seen politicians and leaders across the Islamic Republic’s political spectrum take part, temporarily silencing that anger.
Soleimani, the country’s most powerful general, was killed in a US drone strike early Friday near Baghdad airport in an attack ordered by Trump, who said the Quds commander had been planning an “imminent” attack on US diplomats and forces in Iraq.
The procession was broadcast live on state television, with screens bearing a black ribbon across the top left hand corner in a rare tribute.
The massive crowd was the latest to turn out for Soleimani as his body is flown to several cities before being a planned burial in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday. Analysts say the large crush of mourners has been rivaled only by the 1989 funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei.
Soleimani’s remains were returned to Iran on Sunday and paraded through the streets of the southwestern city of Ahvaz before being taken to second city Mashhad, in the country’s far northeast.
His body is expected to be taken to the holy city of Qom later Monday.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.